The Not So Model Minority

The “model minority” stereotype suggests that Asian Americans are more academically, economically, and socially successful than any other racial minority group.  However, while the “model minority” may suggest “positive” attributes about the culture, the effects of stereotypes and generalizations are nevertheless negative. This causes the “model minorities” to confront these stereotypes implemented by society by embracing their subject-less discourse and using it to their advantage to overthrow the dominant group.

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Shattered features a short story called Camden’s Revenge, where the main female lead forcefully goes against her morals to taunt her childhood friend, in order to blend in with the popular crowd. She eventually manifests her true self and realizes that if she embraces her “nerdy side” she can overthrow the dominant group by attacking what is most important to them: their social image. Hoping to break the hegemonic cycle, Camden fully accepts her “inner nerd” and fabricates a potion that makes the popular girls lose their hair. Because of the model minority stereotype, the popular girls do not suspect Camden’s underlying objective to overthrow their dominant ruling, thus making it easier to fool the girls into consuming the potion. Camden’s reaction to this social structure exhibits a passive aggressive resistance to the dominant culture and changes the portrayal of the model minority. By showing that Asian Americans are not as one sided and innocent as the stereotypes portrays, it becomes an eye opener that Asian Americans are actually capable of being outside their conventional stereotype.

Furthermore, the fact that Asian American students also perceive themselves as the model minority makes it more problematic to those who “buy into” the model minority belief and who as a result strive to “keep up” the “good” image. Failure to maintain this image may thus affect their self-esteem as well as how others are likely to perceive him or her as a person. Camden recognized the unfair burden that is placed; therefore the only way to feel included in society was to revolt against this stereotype. In recognizing this, the comic gets rid of traditional representations that linger in our head and our culture and tries to implement the diverse Asian American identity that needs to be heard.

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Similarly, Drones and Droids focuses on Ken, an Asian American male, who is a victim of the model minority. A Caucasian male gets chosen over an Asian American male for a promotion because of his “people skills”. Even though the Ken is clearly more qualified for the promotion, he does not get chosen because of the submissive stereotype that goes along with the Asian American minority. Throughout the comic, Ken forces a smile and says very little, which allows the audience to forge the connections about how aggravated he is with this unfair hegemonic system. Ken then uses his intellect and skills to murder his competition, which ultimately lead to the desired promotion. However the newly appointed position made him realize that his boss is just as condescending and ignorant as his former co-worker, thus ending the comic with the Asian American male plotting to exterminate his boss as well. The model minority label suggests that Asian Americans conform to the norms of society, do well in school and careers, and are hard working and self-sufficient. It shows that Asian Americans are a prime example of how minorities should act. A closer look, however, uncovers serious problems. If the model minority label accurately describes Asian American success, then they should compare favorably to whites on indicators of success. However, Asian Americans are typically excluded from the executive ranks in the private and public sectors. This is due to a discriminatory view that they are either content or never complain, so they are not suited for executive positions despite their education and abilities. In recognizing these unfair prejudgements, Ken passive aggressively revolts against the dominant group by plotting their deaths. This comic is a cry for society to stop believing in the model minority myth and to judge people based on their personalities and not their stereotypes.

Although stereotypes are usually overgeneralized and widely accepted, they tend to be inconsistent with reality. These comics combat these model minority myths by resisting hegemonic assimilation, which causes the audience to expect social change. Once recognized, the Asian American characters expand on objectifying representations to transform themselves into “subjects”, thus forcing the dominant group to look at Asian Americans as a range of representations that extends beyond a totalized object.


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